The Advocacy and Group Dynamics module really intrigued me. Not only is it an interesting module but a module which has students reflect on most areas of the health and social care/policy institutions without even knowing it!
The Advocacy and Group Dynamics module consist of topics such as defining what advocacy is, who is an advocate, what advocacy involves, its importance, methods and principles of delivering advocacy with different individuals and needs. For example, children, young people, people with learning difficulties/disabilities, people with mental health conditions, the elderly and ways of understanding how group work influences advocate and empowerment.
The content of the module is very intriguing to study and explore, as advocacy is not a term we hear every day, yet unknowingly, is a skill which is reflected in various health and social/policy roles. For example, social work, lawyers, solicitors, health care institutions (nurses...), youth workers. So, advocacy is applied in various contexts of work. There are also various independent organisations in the UK which support or provide advocacy services and work such as National Youth Advocacy Service, PoHwer, Coram Voice, Mind, Asist, Advocacy for All.
The concept of advocacy involves ‘empowering’ people in society. Empowerment is emphasised in the role of advocacy because the aim is to enable people who may be considered vulnerable to have a voice, to have the strength and confidence to defend and uplift themselves in whatever situation. It's also about the ability for people to make their own decisions and feel empowered about it. As Social Policy students, looking to make an impact in the society, advocacy is a key feature in our role whether it is through direct advocacy, or other forms of helping and empowering others.
Advocacy is different from counselling which can be complex; counselling helps/speaks on behalf of others whereas advocacy enables individuals to have a voice by putting the individuals needs first, offering all levels of independent support by safeguarding their rights and decision making, and assisting with support services and care for individuals to make. In the module, this is an important aspect that you will understand and learn.
Reflecting on the content of module, the assignment was a case study based report, acting the role of an advocate to provide the needs and services to an individual or group who may be considered vulnerable, (the lecturers provide support and guidance on this).
Key tips and things to know with this module:
- Act as an advocate. To achieve the best in the case study assignment, you must understand the role of an advocate and put yourselves in the position of one to understand how you can reflect these skills into the case study report through policies, laws. Remember you are empowering.
- Read, Read, Read! Reading is a vital aspect in this module. Wider reading and independent studies goes a long way with understanding advocacy, as well as with the assignment. Here are a few to start off with: Advocacy and social work practice - Tom Wilks 2012 (electronic resource), Advocacy skills for health and social care professionals - Neil Bateman 2000, Developing advocacy for children and young people: current issues in research, policy and practice - Christine M. Oliver, Jane Dalrymple 2008.
- Attending lectures is key. In every lecture, there are various discussions which are vital for your knowledge and to help with the completion of your assignment.
- Enjoy the module! Honestly, enjoy the module! The content and the experience of it all. It is an interesting module, the lecturer is there to support you every step of the way!